The 15th Emmys Evaluated (1963)

Tristan Ettleman
18 min readDec 18, 2023

Welcome to “Emmys Evaluated,” a series that looks at the nominations and wins in the television industry’s foremost awards ceremony and performs some revisionist history to retroactively pick the winners from the categories and nominees the The Television Academy selected.

The 15th Emmy Awards proceeded much like the previous year’s ceremony, at least as far as the major category structure; I haven’t been able to track down even clips from the 14th and 15th events online. While other recognitions were being given out in fields now lumped into the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, The Television Academy pared down just a bit for the main event. Instead of 1962’s 19 categories, the 1963 incarnation featured 18, consolidating the Best Variety and Best Music Show nominees into one shared category of just “Variety” while eliminating a daytime contention and reinstating a game show one.

In recognizing the best television had to offer in 1962, facilitated by hosts Annette Funicello and Don Knotts, the Academy paid special attention to ALCOA PREMIERE and THE DEFENDERS, which were the most nominated shows with seven nods. But the latter emerged with the most major wins with four at the end of the night, repeating its feat down to the exact number of awards from the 14th ceremony. It’s not the most outlandish consensus in awards show history, but as you’ll see, I also worked from a list of nominees that are impossible or very difficult to track down today, especially in relation to some of the more recent Emmys leading up to the 15th. But as always, some snubs stood out as not even appearing as a nominee in any category. THE TWILIGHT ZONE was still better than pretty much anything on TV and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS and “sequel” ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR were still delivering solid and macabre stories right into people’s homes. Foreign programs were still not really on the table, but I must also mention that British sitcom STEPTOE AND SON was the best show premiering anywhere in 1962!

Now, though, I’ll mark with an * the actual winner, bold my pick at the top of the list, and rank in order of my enjoyment from there. I’ve denoted shows or episodes that I couldn’t really track down online (specifically for the year for which they were eligible for this ceremony) with a ~.

Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor

  • THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW*
  • MCHALE’S NAVY
  • THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES
  • “Lucille Ball” (THE DANNY KAYE SHOW)

THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW was one of the greatest sitcoms yet created, even quite a while before it concluded during the end of its first season/beginning of its second as was considered at the 1963 Emmys. Its structure, laughs, and characters have held up in the more than 60 years since its debut, unlike literally everything else nominated for this category. MCHALE’S NAVY, a World War II comedy that foreshadowed the HOGAN’S HEROES (1965–1971) run of similar shows, benefits from Ernest Borgnine’s presence and chilled out command among the furor of the Pacific theater. But it is kind of a bridge too far in terms of corny humor and outlandish scenarios. It feels reined in relative to the pretty atrocious THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, which is based on miscommunications so stupid that I felt I lost brain cells watching it. But even its skewering of the idle rich, which it does more than patronize the titular hillbillies, is more pleasurable than the bit of the “Lucille Ball” episode of THE DANNY KAYE SHOW I was able to track down. The host’s semi-regular variety special series prominently featured the legendary comedian for an episode in the 15th Emmys’ eligibility period and what remains today is a pretty crass “tour” through eateries from various cultures. I’ll let you draw the conclusion as to what that entails.

Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama

  • NAKED CITY
  • THE DEFENDERS*
  • THE DICK POWELL THEATRE
  • ALCOA PREMIERE
  • THE ELEVENTH HOUR~

NAKED CITY remains one of my favorite shows of its era. More than a “copaganda” show (although that is inextricably linked to its portrayal of policing), the morally grey stories of this noir-inflected and grounded series are almost anthologies, with the “criminals,” the lives they touch, and the on-location settings of New York City being the focus of the episodes more than the regular cast of the cops. There is a humanism to NAKED CITY that is hard to find in contemporary productions of ostensibly the same genre. It just barely edges out the similarly sensitive THE DEFENDERS, which actually won in this category and also presents a more nuanced idea of another aspect of the law. THE DEFENDERS’ lawyers lend their aid to cases many would never touch, in the show’s universe and our reality. The unflinching depictions of such cases, while at times old-fashioned from our perspective, were bold for television at the time. THE DICK POWELL THEATRE, an anthology series that featured many past, present, and future star actors and directors, may have been relatively consistent through 1962. From what I’ve been able to track down, which included Sam Peckinpah’s anti-corruption and anti-racist “Pericles on 31st Street,” it’s an admirable production, but one that can’t measure up to the reliability of NAKED CITY or THE DEFENDERS. ALCOA PREMIERE can only be judged by me from John Ford’s “Flashing Spikes,” a so-so baseball drama starring Jimmy Stewart that had to take the place of its standout episode nominated many times below (which I was not able to track down). And while it’s too bad that medical drama THE ELEVENTH HOUR isn’t available for my evaluation, I suspect its genre and its time would have held back my enjoyment.

Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Variety

  • JULIE AND CAROL AT CARNEGIE HALL
  • THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW*
  • THE GARRY MOORE SHOW
  • THE RED SKELTON SHOW
  • HERE’S EDIE~

Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett, both of whom were on an incredible rise in this period, had already collaborated on fellow nominee THE GARRY MOORE SHOW. Coincidentally, the only clip of that show from 1962 I could find was their sketch teasing the cockney accent. It was funny and musical enough, but the perspective was expanded into the special JULIE AND CAROL AT CARNEGIE HALL with great aplomb. The showpersonship of Andrews and Burnett is contagious and buoyant, making the stagebound production more uplifting than staid. Reality’s winner THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW is a standard variety-musical show of its day, with its titular host delivering a few good croons and supporting acts solidifying a nostalgic vision of the past. It offers a more thorough experience than the disparate elements of THE GARRY MOORE SHOW I was able to track down. And certainly THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW offers a more generally pleasant time than the almost inexplicably annoying THE RED SKELTON SHOW. I like lots of old comedy and I feel I should like Skelton but I can’t bring myself to do it. HERE’S EDIE, starring Edie Adams, who often appeared with her freshly deceased husband and almost surrealist comedian Ernie Kovacs (who died in January 1962), was not available for evaluation.

Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Panel, Quiz or Audience Participation

  • PASSWORD
  • TO TELL THE TRUTH
  • THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COLLEGE BOWL*~

Various incarnations of PASSWORD over the years have been great family visit-fillers. Its basic premise of trying to get another to guess your clue is fun, and add in celebrities playing with “civilian” partners, and you get something that’s a bit more novel than your average game show. The celebrity panel of TO TELL THE TRUTH, which asks questions of an opposing panel of, again, civilians to discern a true identity, offers similar pleasures but not in quite the same way. Honestly, I could expect the straightforward trivia knowledge of THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COLLEGE BOWL to triumph over these two shows, as it did in reality, but I wasn’t able to track down a 1962 installment of the long-running event.

Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Documentary Programs

  • SHAKESPEARE: SOUL OF AN AGE
  • THE TUNNEL*~
  • “Emergency Ward” (THE DUPONT SHOW OF THE WEEK)~
  • “He Is Risen” (PROJECT XX)~
  • THE RIVER NILE~

Since all its fellow nominees are missing from the online record as far as I could see it, SHAKESPEARE: SOUL OF AN AGE is the default winner. Aesthetically a partner with 14th Emmys’ nom VINCENT VAN GOGH: A SELF-PORTRAIT, as it avoids talking heads or even human figures at all as it provides color images of various locales associated with its titular playwright, SOUL OF AN AGE is a good little primer on the life of The Bard. I have no choice but to consider it superior, but I feel that THE TUNNEL, a documentary illuminating the efforts of West Berlin students to get out friends and family from East Germany under the Berlin Wall, would probably have won as it did in reality were I able to find it. Regarding the quality of the “movie of the week” “Emergency Ward” installment of THE DUPONT SHOW OF THE WEEK, “He Is Risen” of PROJECT XX, and an apparently straightforward doc called THE RIVER NILE, I can only guess.

Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Children’s Programming

  • WALT DISNEY’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR*
  • MR. WIZARD
  • CAPTAIN KANGAROO~
  • DISCOVERY~
  • THE SHARI LEWIS SHOW~
  • UPDATE~

WALT DISNEY’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR continues to offer the most contemporary enjoyment for this nearly reformed Disney fan, as its “Disneyland After Dark” episode especially spotlighted the park as it appeared in 1962, and most delightfully, featured a lengthy Louis Armstrong performance, amid corny Walt jokes. The show’s relatively diverse offerings definitely feel more powerful than the basic science communication of MR. WIZARD, a prehistoric Bill Nye that offers some interesting knowledge even as it proceeds with a leaden pace typical of the low-budget television of its era. 1962 installments of CAPTAIN KANGAROO, that old goofy standby, DISCOVERY, a science and culture show, THE SHARI LEWIS SHOW, featuring the titular host and her famous puppets like Lamb Chop, and UPDATE, of which I have not been able to find anything (probably not helped along by its generic title), are not forthcoming.

Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of News Commentary or Public Affairs

  • THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
  • CBS REPORTS
  • DAVID BRINKLEY’S JOURNAL*~
  • ABC CLOSE UP!~
  • HOWARD K. SMITH~

I can’t imagine that the relatively straightforward news reporting of DAVID BRINKLEY’S JOURNAL, ABC CLOSE UP!, and HOWARD K. SMITH would stand out to my modern eyes like the Walter Cronkite-hosted THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. That’s because the technical follow-up CBS REPORTS doesn’t, as the less topical documentary series THE TWENTIETH CENTURY explores subjects like Frank Lloyd Wright and airport protocol. Perhaps because it’s not quite a news show like the rest in this category, THE TWENTIETH CENTURY is more interesting today.

The Program of the Year

  • “Madman” (THE DEFENDERS)
  • “Lucille Ball” (THE DANNY KAYE SHOW)
  • THE TUNNEL*~
  • “The Voice of Charlie Pont” (ALCOA PREMIERE)~

The absence of THE TUNNEL is felt here, as is the specific episode of “The Voice of Charlie Pont” from ALCOA PREMIERE (which will come up again). That’s especially true because, as mentioned, the “Lucille Ball” episode of THE DANNY KAYE SHOW is simply not funny as far as I’ve been able to see it. But I think the two absentees could have also given the very strong “Madman” story of THE DEFENDERS (presented in two episodes) a run for its money. In it, the father-and-son lawyer duo defend a man who admits to killing a woman for no other reason than feeling like it; the two decide to challenge New York State’s insanity laws. I don’t know that the “Madman” plot ends up somewhere that I truly felt on board with, but it’s undeniable that THE DEFENDERS’ challenge of what it means to be held accountable as a murderer was truly progressive for its time. For that, it receives my admiration, besides the trimmings of being well-written and acted, of course!

Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Series (Lead)

  • Dick Van Dyke — THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW
  • Paul Burke — NAKED CITY
  • E.G. Marshall — THE DEFENDERS*
  • Ernest Borgnine — MCHALE’S NAVY
  • Vic Morrow — COMBAT!

The title star of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW excelled as a sitcom leading man in that he wasn’t subsumed by funnier or more outlandish supporting characters. I’m not saying Dick Van Dyke’s Rob Petrie is the best character on the show, but he doesn’t just suffer as a straight man (although he does play that part at times). It’s one of the great television comedy performances of its day and that’s hard to compete with. Paul Burke, as the lead of NAKED CITY, comes close with his sensitive and admirable portrayal of a New York cop (something I’m not necessarily always sympathetic for). Like I did when comparing the other side of the legal proceedings between NAKED CITY and THE DEFENDERS, E.G. Marshall’s winning turn as a passionate attorney can be eloquent, if sometimes ham-fisted. Borgnine is a great actor, but his comic persona for MCHALE’S NAVY is just fine, although his presence does somewhat ground a pretty extreme premise. Finally, the heretofore-unmentioned COMBAT! is a pretty grim World War II drama that shifted, from one episode to the next, in following Vic Morrow then Rick Jason. Morrow does alright I guess as a pretty tough sergeant, but he’s much more forgettable in league with his fellow nominees.

Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead)

  • Mary Tyler Moore — THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW
  • Lucille Ball — THE LUCY SHOW
  • Shirl Conway — THE NURSES
  • Irene Ryan — THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES
  • Shirley Booth — HAZEL*

While it’s undeniable that Mary Tyler Moore had “less to do” on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW as compared to her later starring sitcom, the show was remarkable for its time in that it gave a bit more agency and respect to her housewife character. And regardless of portrayal politics, Moore is delightfully funny and always a warm presence on the show. Her rising star is a great comparison, or contrast, to Lucille Ball’s in her then-new sitcom after THE LUCY-DESI COMEDY HOUR (1957–1960), THE LUCY SHOW. In its first season, it had not yet taken on the uber-ridiculous aspects of the latter part of its run (including a whole premise shift that essentially erased Ball’s character’s children). But although it got worse, the comedy icon started THE LUCY SHOW with a diminished presence from her I LOVE LUCY (1951–1957) days. In checking out THE NURSES, a show I had never heard of before, I was impressed by its gravity and treatment of serious medical issues, even as I kind of don’t jive with medical shows. Shirl Conway, as the veteran charge nurse overseeing many younger women, is a pretty good commanding performance. THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES is a goofy show and Irene Ryan as the matriarch Granny is just as goofy. Her over-the-top “rough woman” act is pretty grating, like most any other performance on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Even still, Ryan’s persona is at least a bit more interesting to watch than winner Shirley Booth’s titular maid on HAZEL, a domestic family sitcom that just totally rankles me in its squeaky-cleanliness and lack of actually good jokes.

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor

  • Don Knotts — THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW*
  • Tim Conway — MCHALE’S NAVY
  • Hurd Hatfield — “Invincible Mr. Disraeli” (HALLMARK HALL OF FAME)
  • Robert Redford — “The Voice of Charlie Pont” (ALCOA PREMIERE)~
  • Paul Ford — “The Teahouse of the August Moon” (HALLMARK HALL OF FAME)~

Don Knotts is one of those actors who, on paper, I would probably be annoyed by. But there’s something about his Deputy Barny Fife on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW that is so funny; maybe there’s a touch of nostalgia involved. But obviously others agreed, as he won in 1963 and is still best-remembered for his Mayberry silliness. Tim Conway’s rule-following ensign on MCHALE’S NAVY doesn’t necessarily foretell his greatness on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW (1967–1978), but his presence is felt much more than Hurd Hatfield’s very brief support as a banker and member of the House of Commons in “Invincible Mr. Disraeli,” an episode of the anthology/TV movie series HALLMARK HALL OF FAME. I’m less concerned with missing the show’s other nominee, “The Teahouse of the August Moon,” but I would have liked to see an early Robert Redford role in ALCOA PREMIERE’s “The Voice of Charlie Pont.”

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actress

  • Rose Marie — THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW
  • Nancy Malone — NAKED CITY
  • Glenda Farrell — “A Cardinal Act of Mercy” (BEN CASEY)*
  • Kate Reid — “Invincible Mr. Disraeli” (HALLMARK HALL OF FAME)
  • Davey Davison — “Of Roses and Nightingales and Other Lovely Things” (THE ELEVENTH HOUR) ~

Rose Marie’s man-crazy Sally on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW operates in a unique space for 1960s TV: she is a comedy writer. Not only is she a confidently single working woman (albeit one always on the prowl, which is her humorous right), she is a professional on an equal footing, and in a space even more dominated by men in its day. Rose Marie is electric and more fully fleshed out as compared to the cop’s girlfriend role of Nancy Malone throughout NAKED CITY. Glenda Farrell, a great ’30s favorite of mine, does admirably as a patient in the two-episode story “A Cardinal Act of Mercy” from BEN CASEY, but the part she’s working with is so melodramatic it’s hard to take totally seriously. But Kate Reid, as Queen Victoria in “Invincible Mr. Disraeli,” brings up the rear. The part is not necessarily poorly performed, but it essentially fits into every portrayal of the royal and is present for so little of the episode’s run time. Davey Davison in an episode of medical drama THE ELEVENTH HOUR, “Of Roses and Nightingales and Other Lovely Things,” could be wonderful for all I know.

Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

  • Trevor Howard — “Invincible Mr. Disraeli” (HALLMARK HALL OF FAME)*
  • Don Gordon — “Madman” (THE DEFENDERS)
  • Bradford Dillman — “The Voice of Charlie Pont” (ALCOA PREMIERE)~
  • Walter Matthau — “Big Deal in Laredo” (THE DUPONT SHOW OF THE WEEK)~
  • Joseph Schildkraut — “Hear the Mellow Wedding Bells” (SAM BENEDICT)~

Quite a few absences in this category make things essentially easy to decide. Once again, the lack of “The Voice of Charlie Pont” is felt, but in terms of the leads listed here, I’m most intrigued by Walter Matthau in THE DUPONT SHOW OF THE WEEK’s “Big Deal in Laredo,” with Josesph Schildkraut in legal drama SAM BENEDICT’s “Hear the Mellow Wedding Bells” bringing up the rear. But in terms of what I could view, Trevor Howard, also reality’s winner, takes the cake for “Invincible Mr. Disraeli.” The episode is actually written quite well, with many eloquent lines uttered by Howard and others, and for his part, he portrays the one-time Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli quite sympathetically. The only thing is that Disraeli is kind of a terrible influence on, really, global history as far as I know it. But in the sheer realm of performance appreciation, I give it to Howard over Don Gordon’s confused and vacillating psychopath on “Madman.” He’s able to be imposing as well as pitiful at times, but the role is certainly part of a trend of “disturbed” characters that feels too trope-y.

Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

  • Kim Stanley — “A Cardinal Act of Mercy” (BEN CASEY)*
  • Diahann Carroll — “A Horse Has a Big Head, Let Him Worry” (NAKED CITY)
  • Sylvia Sidney — “Madman” (THE DEFENDERS)
  • Diana Hyland — “The Voice of Charlie Pont” (ALCOA PREMIERE)~
  • Eleanor Parker — “Why Am I Grown So Cold?” (THE ELEVENTH HOUR)~

Kim Stanley gets more screen time than Farrell in “A Cardinal Act of Mercy” as a heroine-addicted “lady lawyer,” so by comparison her delivery and part feels meatier. The reality winner’s hysteria can be a bit much, but when she is more measured, she is a touch more compelling than the great Diahann Carroll in the NAKED CITY episode “A Horse Has a Big Head, Let Him Worry.” Other ’30s favorite Sylvia Sidney, meanwhile, does go all-in on hysteria as the father of Gordon’s murderer in “Madman,” making it hard for me to take her real anguish seriously. “The Voice of Charlie Pont” is perhaps turning into something really worth tracking down someday, with another performance nomination for Diana Hyland, while I still don’t feel inclined to watch the medical drama of THE ELEVENTH HOUR, nominated here for a different episode in the form of “Why Am I Grown So Cold?” and Eleanor Parker.

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy

  • John Rich — THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW*
  • Frederick De Cordova — THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM
  • Richard Whorf — THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES
  • Dave Geisel — THE GARRY MOORE SHOW
  • Seymour Berns — THE RED SKELTON SHOW

Sitcom and variety show directing on television is so hard for me to judge, as those types of shows often fit into a formula that’s hard to distinguish. That being said, I can attribute each of these series’ quality to, at least partly, a function of the direction, so I’ve taken a crack at ranking them just based on overall appeal. By that measure, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW is the clear winner from John Rich’s efforts. THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM is feeling a bit tired at this time in its run, even if Jack Benny is still a better figure from that vaudeville-radio era. And while I don’t like the show, I can acknowledge THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES’ ability to weave two kinds of people and performances together, putting it ahead of the very brief bit of THE GARRY MOORE SHOW I was able to track down from 1962 and the full episode of THE RED SKELTON SHOW that I just can’t, as usual, get behind.

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama

  • Stuart Rosenberg — “Madman” (THE DEFENDERS)*
  • George Schaefer — “Invincible Mr. Disraeli” (HALLMARK HALL OF FAME)
  • Sydney Pollack — “A Cardinal Act of Mercy” (BEN CASEY)
  • Robert Ellis Miller — “The Voice of Charlie Pont” (ALCOA PREMIERE)~
  • Filder Cook — “Big Deal in Laredo” (THE DUPONT SHOW OF THE WEEK)~

Now, with the direction of the dramatic nominees, I have a better idea of the eye of the director, even as they also fit into a formula of teleplay presentation. That being said, Stuart Rosenberg’s treatment for “Madman” has some nice push-ins and camera movements that make it feel more “cinematic,” even through the fuzz of a terrible VHS print. I was actually somewhat impressed by George Schaefer’s orchestration of “Invincible Mr. Disraeli,” which makes drawing room and office conversations more alive with blocking configurations that keep things moving. And while I rooted for Sydney Pollack as the most outstanding director-to-be from this list, his helming of “A Cardinal Act of Mercy” was typical BEN CASEY fare…as in, pretty plain drama. “The Voice of Charlie Pont” and “Big Deal in Laredo’s” absences are once again felt.

Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy

  • THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW*
  • THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM
  • THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES
  • CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU?
  • THE RED SKELTON SHOW

THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW has by far the freshest writing and jokes on anything on this list and its ranking echoes the same reasoning for the comedy directing category. The one difference is CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU? in place of THE GARRY MOORE SHOW, a police sitcom that, while familiar in its structure and jokes, does not resonate at all with me.

Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama

  • “Madman” — THE DEFENDERS*
  • “Invicible Mr. Disraeli” — HALLMARK HALL OF FAME
  • “A Cardinal Act of Mercy” — BEN CASEY
  • “The Voice of Charlie Pont” — ALCOA PREMIERE~
  • “Big Deal in Loredo” — THE DUPONT SHOW OF THE WEEK~

As with the drama directing category, I acknowledge the freshness of the writing approach and actual execution (pardon the expression) of “Madman” as my winner here. As mentioned, “Invincible Mr. Disraeli” has some solid lines, even as I take issue with its hagiography of its title character/personage, while “A Cardinal Act of Mercy’s” “difficult morality” typical of BEN CASEY feels a bit too simple for me.

I’m not so bullish on the high quality of American TV in 1962, so I don’t think that there are many omissions that glare from the industry’s 1963 celebration of the medium. That being said, I only “aligned” with the Academy nine out of 18 times, a 50 percent “agreement” rate that admittedly wasn’t helped along by the glut of nominees and even winners that aren’t readily available these days, if they’re not totally lost. From my selections of the framework above, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW was clearly the winningest with six awards, but once again, THE TWILIGHT ZONE would be my pick for the best show on the air in 1962. The television on display for the 15th Emmys wasn’t exactly killer and it would still be a number of years before a new status quo was introduced for the event, from category refinement to the standout recurring programs.

--

--